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Leaving the EU could put the UK’s medicinal cannabis users in a tight spot

In an popular airport in the UK, a man gets off a plane, grabs his hand luggage and makes his way through the baggage hall towards the exit. Two paths open up in front of him. This isn’t a Robert Frost poem though, this is the reality for many people in the UK. 

The man looks at the two channels, to the left, a big green sign saying ‘nothing to declare’ and the red one on the right that says customs. He heads through the right channel, goes up to the customs officer and tells him that he is carrying herbal cannabis that he is legally carrying into the country. He produces a private prescription filled out by a doctor in the UK, and shows the customs officer the drugs. The customs officer consults with his supervisor, then wishes the man well, hands back the cannabis and wishes him a good day. The man carries on with his journey.

Believe it or not, this is a true story that happens in the UK every week or so. Medical patients with private (non NHS) prescriptions for cannabis leave the country and go to Holland or Belgium and get Bedrocan herbal cannabis from a pharmacy. They are then legally allowed to bring the cannabis into the UK. This is due to the Schengen freedom of movement rules that the UK is signed up to. All EU citizens are entitled to bring any medicine or drug dispensed in the EU into any EU country, and thus customs officers are legally required to allow people to pass, as long as they have the right to documentation.

Now the UK is leaving the EU, then people who have been treating their illnesses with legal cannabis will not be able to bring it back into the country any more, at least until any new treaties on medicines from the EU were drawn up. This will force medical patients back onto the black market, or forced to grow cannabis for themselves, making them into criminals. That would be a very unfortunate side effect of leaving the EU.

June 24, 2016 by Gareth Arnold

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